Nigeria to join Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement

The Nigerian presidency has announced it will sign the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) after months of deliberation, amid concerns that the landmark deal would threaten local business.

Nigeria will sign the huge free trade agreement – aimed at boosting regional trade by 54% by removing tariffs on 90% of goods traded across Africa – at a summit of the African Union in Niger on July 7.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said: “Let me state unequivocally that trade is important for us as a nation and to all nations.

“Economic progress is what makes the world go around. Our position is very simple, we support free trade as long as it is fair and conducted on an equitable basis.”

South Africa and Cameroon are among 52 of the African Union’s 55 member states that have signed up to the pact. But Nigeria had until now refused to commit, fearing a backlash from domestic manufacturers who would be faced with increasing regional competition.

However, after completing extensive domestic consultation and reviewing an impact assessment of the trade agreement in June, Africa’s largest economy and most populous nation agreed to join the AfCFTA.